NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: The United Nations (UN) headquarters stands above the neighborhood on the east side of Manhattan on September 29, 2015 in New York City. The ongoing war in Syria and the refugee crisis it has spawned are providing a backdrop to this years 70th annual General Assembly meeting of global leaders.   Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
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Disunity and Impotence at the United Nations

The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.Dag Hammarskjöld, UN secretary-general, during a May 1954 speech.

The man who, by simply raising his hand, prevented all efforts to end the war in Syria is sitting in a bunker-like room on 67th Street in Manhattan. Chandeliers are hanging above his head, a pendulum clock is keeping the time behind him and the furniture recalls Soviet-era filmography. “We have had this problem with Syria, of course, and …… I (have) thought a lot about it,” says Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. An ironic expression on his face, the white-haired diplomat leans back in his leather chair.

Churkin is one of the men charged with saving the world. As absurd as it might sound, that is his job. The 15 members of the UN Security Council, in particular the five permanent members — China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States — bear “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” according to Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations.

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